The Snowdon Mountain Railway

The Snowdon Mountain Railway offers “an experience above everything else””.

Since 1896 visitors have been travelling to Llanberis, to experience the unique rail journey to the Summit of the highest mountain in Wales and England. 

Snowdon is a true mountain and place of legend, and the railway allows tourists and visitors the chance to go and see exactly why Snowdon Mountain Railway has been described as one of the most unique and wonderful railway journeys in the world. 

With stunning scenery and awe-inspiring views it’s all part of a great day out for you and your family in North Wales.

The Snowdon Mountain Railway is a mountain railway system and popular tourist destination located in Gwynedd, North-West Wales in the Snowdonia National Park. 

The Snowdon Mountain Railway is a tourist railway that travels for 4.7 miles (7.6 km) from Llanberis to the summit of Snowdon mountain range, which is the highest mountain peak in Wales

Snowdon Mountain Railway / Rheilffordd yr Wyddfa

The Snowdon Mountain Range is the only public rack and pinion railway in the UK and after more than 100 years of operation it remains a popular tourist attraction in Wales. The popular railway has carried more than 12 million passengers up to the Snowdon Peak. The railway line is owned and operated by Heritage Great Britain, who operates several other tourist attractions around the UK.

The railway continues to operate during some of the harshest weather conditions in Britain, although services can be curtailed from reaching the summit in bad weather and does remain closed during the winter months of November to mid-March. 

Single carriage trains are pushed up the mountain by either steam or diesel locomotives.

The Snowdon Mountain Railway was the inspiration for the fictional Culdee Fell Railway, appearing in the book Mountain Engines, part of The Railway series written by Rev. W. Awdry.

About the Journey on Snowdon Mountain Railway:

The railway journey will take you 1,085 metres above sea level

The Snowdon Mountain Railway Trains depart from Llanberis station and begin their climb 1085m up to the summit of Yr Wyddfa, a journey experienced by some 12 million travellers since 1896. 

The ancient Snowdonia Mountains were thrust upwards by volcanic forces 450 million years ago and once grew to heights of 10,000 metres.

Over Millions of years, the wind and rain and successive ice ages have sculpted them to their current form; with Snowdon being the highest summit in England and Wales.  

Your Journey starts at Llanberis and takes in Hebron and Waterfall until reaching Halfway and then the Rocky Valley and Clogwyn before reaching the Summit.

The Journey in more detail:

Llanberis

Soon after you leave the station in Llanberis, the train crosses the first of two viaducts across the Afon Hwch river, where the Ceunant Mawr waterfall plunges majestically into the gorge below. 

Waterfall

You will then pass by Waterfall station where the building here was originally a cottage residence once occupied by a local family.

As the train emerges into the open, treeless countryside, you will be able to catch a first glimpse of the Summit of Snowdon, as it pokes above the ridge ahead to the right. 

Moel Elio, named after a 4th Century Irish king, can be seen rising on the right of the track and all around the landscape is abandoned, simple, thick-walled dwellings that once housed local families.

Hebron Station

The train next passes Hebron Station, named after the nearby Hebron Chapel. In 1833 the poor families in this valley joined together and from the pittances they scraped from the slate quarries and from the land, they managed to raise enough money to build themselves a chapel. This would become their spiritual and cultural centre and was still habitable in 1966 when it was bought for just £450. 

Nature has now become its final tenant but its name lives on, in the name of the station here. 

To the right the large, ruined farm of Helfa nestles at the bottom of Cwm Brwynog, or Valley of Reeds. 

No one knows its real history. It might have once been a place for herding sheep or a hunting lodge as hunting wild boar was once common in the area.

As the train climbs higher Moel Hebog can be seen in the distant, rising above the village of Beddgelert. It means Hill of the Falcon and is one of the many Snowdonian homes of the Peregrine Falcon, the world’s fastest animal. 

To its north is a cave where it is believed that Owain Glyndwr, the leader of the last Welsh rebellion against the English, lies waiting to rise and lead his people once more.

Halfway Station

The midpoint of the journey is reached at Halfway Station and this is where the steam engines stop to re-fill their water tanks, ready for the final ascent.  

The original halfway hut was blown down in a gale and was once famous for its lemonade which was made to a secret recipe, but which presumably blew away in the wind as well.

On from the halfway station you can see the walkers down on the Llanberis Path to the right, and Moel Cynghorion, the Mountain of Councillors, which rises on the far side of the valley. 

Beyond the Halfway Café are remnants of one of the largest medieval settlements in Wales and the black volcanic rock face of Clogwyn du’r Arddu which rises in the distance.

Rocky Valley

As the train leaves Halfway Station and the lush green valley below it approaches the dramatic, sheer edge of Rocky Valley. Rock Valley is a rock-littered landscape with spectacular views to the valleys below. 

Cars can be spotted like small ants down on the Llanberis Pass to the left and to the right there are views of the Llyn Peninsula, if you look into the distance through the valley.

Clogwyn Station

The Clogwyn Station is as high as the trains can go in early spring, when ice or snow prevent the trains from reaching the Summit. 

It is located on an exposed ridge, overlooking Llanberis Pass and Clogwyn Du’r Arddu cliffs. Nearby lies a group of huge boulders that once tumbled from cliffs above and are rumoured to be the home of a witch named Canthrig Bwt who would try to catch children climbing on the rocks.

The Summit

Arrival at the summit reveals one of the world’s greatest panoramas. Hafod Eryri, the UK’s highest visitor centre, has spectacular panoramic views to the valleys below.

From here you can venture to the cairn, where on a clear day the views stretch out as far as Ireland.

Standing on the summit of the highest Mountain in Wales and England, young and old can embrace the invigorating atmosphere of Eryri – Land of the Eagles.

For more about the visitor centre at the summit please see The Summit Visitor Centre

More about your journey up to the Snowdon Summit

Along the journey to the summit you can you plenty of Snowdonia Wildlife

Around 20% of the Snowdonia National Park is specially protected by UK and European law, which helps to conserve the animals and plants found on Snowdon.

A charming and delicate Alpine flower, the Snowdon lily is known as brwynddail y mynydd, which means ‘rush-leaves of the mountain’.

Snowdonia is home to many Arctic Alpine plants which include Alpine meadow-grass, tufted saxifrage, Alpine saxifrage, Alpine woodsia and Alpine cinquefoil.

Birds frequently spotted in the area include the peregrine falcon, meadow pipit, wheatear, raven and ring ouzel.

Snowdonia is the UK’s main population centre for chough, a rare member of the crow family, who are instantly recognisable to the seasoned bird watcher because of its distinctive vocalisations and red beak.

Mammals living on the Snowdon Mountain include feral goats, otters and polecats. It is also thought that pine martens still live in the area, with the occasional sighting still reported.

If you do visit Snowdonia, make sure you keep a watchful eye out for the Snowdon beetle, also known as the rainbow leaf beetle. The entire adult population is thought to amount to just 1,000, so if you do get to see one you should consider yourself to be very lucky.

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